Here comes the rain again

Well, water actually. The ANU’s Chifley Library was closed due to flooding yesterday, albeit just of tiled floors which made them too slippery for use. It’s a year since the library was all but inundated by flood waters – this one was burst pipes not torrential rain and holdings were not damaged. It came as the university celebrated the new Kambri “innovation and culture complex,” which stayed dry.

Peak library and data access groups back Euro open access

The Council of Australian University Librarians has  declared support for the European open access Plan S –which calls for all scholarly publications which result from publicly funded research to be published in OA journals or OA platforms from 2020.

Who says what: The 39-member CAUL, with the 17 Aus and eight NZ university members in the Australasian Open Access Strategy Group “welcome the aspirations of Plan S to move towards immediate full open access.”

“We share the frustration of the plan’s architects that there has not been sufficient movement by publishers towards OA and agree that there is an imperative to compel publishers to address the needs of researchers and funders by providing the services that the research sector needs in order to implement full open access,” they announce.

Local needs to meet: However, they also call for an approach that meets the specific circumstances of the ANZ research communities; notably the role of repositories, which local funding agencies support for open access and which universities maintain. And they urge adoption of Green Open Access (no charge to research readers or authors) to make this possible.

“Support for repositories is essential if countries like Australia and New Zealand are to reach a position where Plan S could be adopted by their funding agencies.

“Without a viable Green OA option, it will be impossible for Australia, New Zealand and other countries that rely on repositories for OA to comply with Plan S.”

Easier said than done: The coalition also acknowledges that deciding Plan S should happen, and making it so are not quite the same.

“The implementation plan is not clear on whether responsibility for the implementation of Plan S sits with the research institutions, or the funders. If the latter, how will funders be supported to cover the administrative overheads for the management of author copyrights, or compliance? Will the financial burden shift from universities (eg, subscription costs) to funders for publishing charges? In this context, it will be important to ensure funders will be willing and fully equipped to adopt Plan S.”

More involved than articles: And the coalition warns Plan S needs to expand to cover data, which publishers are also keen on commercialising.

Commercial publishers are rapidly building infrastructure, workflows and business models to attract and accommodate a growing corpus of research data into their business. Their aim is undoubtedly to grow their business and revenue streams. The result may ultimately mirror the control and manipulation in the current journal article publishing marketplace. With the adoption and implementation of national research data services, we believe that Plan S should be inclusive of all research outputs. Addressing OA to research data via Plan S now will exert additional pressure on commercial publishers and research-intensive institutions to influence research culture and researcher behaviour.”

What it means: The feds having to fund any local Plan S is what. In addition to the infrastructure costs CAUL and AOASG set-out, the for-profit publishers will simply not shut-down their pay-to-subscribe, pay-to-read, pay-to-publish journals money-printing presses.  There are stalemates across Europe where university systems and publishers cannot agree on access and journals are not available in libraries. This would cause academic uproar here, given OA is nowhere as high-profile.

Which means universities will look to the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Research Council, who fund most research, for help – and the agencies will look to the feds.  The brief for the incoming minister after the election is being updated now.

Deckchairs on the Titanic

“Trying to change the internal culture of financial institutions is a task so enormous it’s like trying to turn the Titanic around,” Macquarie U promotes academic analysis via Facebook yesterday. At least the White Star line did not charge passengers for ice.

Think nationally if you must but act locally in training

There is talk, as ever, of a federal take-over of training – which misses the point.

For the training system to better serve communities which centralised system it is part of, be it based in Canberra or state capitals, matters less than a capacity to create courses to meet local needs.

TAFE Directors Australia’s Craig Robertson argues that these are the very powers that universities have and without them centralised government is always too far away from the local-level where training institutions work. “For a national system to work, with balance across sectors, TAFEs and other capable providers need to be given these capabilities, otherwise students in inner Sydney, Broken Hill, Katherine and Bunbury are served the same course with little regard to local conditions, and service to community is put at risk,” he writes.

Research and Development tax changes: a Blue Hills of a bill

A political age ago a political Blue Hills began, with a narrative about reforming the research and development tax incentive.

First there was the Review of the Three Fs in 2016 (Bill Ferris, Alan Finkel and John Fraser) which proposed beneficiaries drink from slightly smaller rivers of gold. Ministers sat on that for months, many months, until nerves were raised and measures to scale back the concession appeared in the last budget – to be greeted by outrage.

The resulting bill was then sent to a Senate economics legislation committee, which heard at length, what a bad idea some of the saving measure were, before releasing its report yesterday.

Certainly, “governments, in ensuring accountability of taxpayer funds, need to constantly monitor, examine and strengthen such programs and industry as partners in such schemes also need to remain alert to the need for improvements,” senators state. But the $4m cap (clinical trials exempt) on the refundable tax offset in the bill, caught entrepreneurs unawares and “would benefit from some finessing to ensure that R&D entities that have already made investment commitments are not impeded unintentionally.”

Another change needs re-examining, “in order to ensure that Australian businesses are not unfairly disadvantaged.” Overall, the senators concluded; “the committee considers that the bill should not proceed until there is further consideration of the R&D tax incentive measures.”

Like Blue Hills, this is a saga that looks like it is over, and then isn’t.


Griffith U expands in professional accreditation

Griffith U is expanding in the professional accreditation market, partnering with the Institute of Managers and Leaders ANZ, (formerly the Australian Institute of Management).  Last year the Institute accredited Griffith U MBA graduates with chartered manager status which is now extended to Griffith M Bus grads.  IML says the chartered manager designation is the “highest status” that a “management professional” can achieve.

“Good morning, Cabal and Conspiracy Creative”

Universities UK has a campaign  promoting the benefits of applied research, “made at uni: the 100+ plus ways universities have improved everyday life.”

The message is much like the new Universities Australia campaignuni research changes lives”, promoting the benefits of applied research.

The two are rather like the way individual university brand-campaigns are often interchangeable, change names in the creative and no-one would notice.

Perhaps it’s because the mission and outcomes of individual universities and systems are the same everywhere. Unless of course there is a secret UN creative brief to make all comms the same.


Helen McCutcheon will move to Curtin U on May 20, to become a deputy PVC. She is now head of the school of nursing, midwifery and social work at the University of Queensland.

Nick Zwar becomes dean of health sciences and medicine at Bond U. He moves from the University of Wollongong, where he was dean of medicine.

Megan Fisher is La Trobe U’s new PVC Industry Engagement. She will join from the University of Melbourne, where she is  operations director for Research, Innovation and Commercialisation.